So Who Is a Superstar?

May 21, 2018
                                                        So Who Is a Superstar?

             

              The question of what is a superstar—my last article--leads naturally to the question of who is a superstar.  I was working on that one before I wrote the last article, but that research failed so completely that I abandoned it.   After publishing the What article I gained some understanding of the mistakes I had made previously, and I took another crack at the problem.   I corrected three flaws in my previous attempt, maybe three and a half.   Substantial flaws in the system or limitations to the system still exist and there is still a lot that could be done better, but I think I have something publishable now. 

              First, the estimate that 7% of "stars" could be considered "superstars" is unrealistically low, and does not comport with the way that we actually think about superstars.  "Superstars" are more like a 20% subset of "stars", rather than 7%.   I didn’t go to 20% in this effort, but I went up to more like 11% and also used a slightly increased estimate of the number of stars, thus creating a little bit more room to designate players as superstars. 

              Second, I realize now that it was foolish to say that because there is a certain ratio of stars to superstars, that that ratio applies to every season.  It was this assumption that was forcing me into the situation in which players would be "on" the superstar list in years 1, 3 and 6, but not on the list in years 2, 4 and 5.   Instead, I fixed a number of player/seasons to be designated over time, but allowed the number to go up or down in any one season.

              Third, I adopted a reader’s suggestion—not sure whether it was here on from Twitter—that some players, like Willie Mays and Babe Ruth, become permanent superstars as long as they are active, but that for most stars, superstar status fades away once the player’s skills diminish.   Now that I think about it, this seems to be obviously true.  

              And fourth, I incorporated two adjustments into my system to moderate "success" with "the recognition of success".   In a mathematical system, I’m basically stuck measuring actual success, rather than perceived success.   But I did a couple of little things. .. .I’ll explain later. 

              I ran a poll on Twitter:  "In considering who is a Superstar, does Hype count?"  873 people responded; 45% said "Yes", 55% said "No".   This was very helpful to me, because that clarifies why it is difficult to reach consensus about who is a superstar.   It is unusual for a poll about the meaning of a word to be so evenly divided.  We can’t reach consensus about who is a superstar because we have no general agreement about whether publicity invested in a player is or is not relevant.  

              But what I realized at this point is that this is not a pure dichotomy.   The key issue, in defining a superstar, is to what extent do you accept public recognition as an element of the mix?

              I accept that public recognition is an inevitable element in stardom, to a certain extent; recognition of success is the difference between "star" and "good player".   But what I realize now is that saying that we accept recognition of success as some element of superstardom does not throw open the gates to unlimited acceptance of hype.  It’s relevant, to a limited extent.  We could say, in a mathematical model, that we accept "recognition signals" as superstar credentials, up to but not exceeding 10% of the player’s total—or 20%, or 30%, or whatever, but you can’t make a player a superstar purely by hyping him.  

              Here is a critical difference between sports and, let’s say, movie superstardom or television superstardom.   In Hollywood superstardom, we accept that many are called but few are chosen, emphasis on chosen.   We accept that Hollywood has many young actors with chiseled features and winning smiles and glib personalities,  and we accept that Hollywood, not arbitrarily but somewhat arbitrarily, chooses one or two of those to give the prized roles to while ignoring ten or twenty others who are equally well qualified on a purely objective scale. 

              But the sports world could never accept this.  To accept this in sports is absolutely, unforgivably forbidden.   Nobody is "chosen" to be a major league baseball player; you goddamned earn it, or you don’t belong.   That’s fundamental to sports, to the meritocracy of sports.   That’s why those who think that magazine covers and celebrity endorsement contracts can make you a superstar need to draw a line between sports superstardom and media superstardom.   It is not actually the same thing.  Sports are a meritocracy in a way that media success is not. 

              So here’s what I did to try to identify superstars by using a mathematical model.   First, I started with the Win Shares for each player in each season—or actually, since I don’t have all Win Shares in my spreadsheet, Estimated Win Shares.   Win Shares are integers; Estimated Win Shares carry decimals.  But we’ll call it Win Shares to save a word.

              Second, I figured a "running score" for each player, which was:

              4 times Win Shares in the season, plus

              2 times Win Shares in the previous season, plus

              Win Shares in the second previous season, plus

              65% of whatever the player’s total was after the previous season. 

             

              Another small change; in my previous effort to do this, I did the same thing but used 70%, rather than 65%.   I thought that, in the previous effort, this tended to cause superstar identifications to arrive a little bit too late in a player’s career.   Reducing the "carry forward" reduces the time gap between the emergence of a star and his peak, thus causing the peak values to appear at a younger age.  Actually, 65% still appears to be a little bit too high.  But I’m living with it for now.

              In the previous effort, I identified the top X players in the Running Score for each season as the Superstars for that season, which, as I said before, didn’t really work.  But this time I went further, working not with Win Shares but with Adjusted Win Shares.  Adjusted Win Shares were adjusted in two ways, both of which were intended to create an opening for recognition signals. 

              First, I added 8 (8 Win Shares) to any player who won the MVP Award or the Cy Young Award, 16 if the player won both.   In the previous effort not enough pitchers emerged as superstars, so this helped (a) as a recognition signal, and (b) to get higher values for pitchers.

              Second, I figured for each player/season the ratio between the player’s Hits, and his Secondary Bases.   Historically, batting average is over-valued; secondary offensive skills (walks and power) are under-valued.   In my studies before, this tended to cause certain high-average players—Rod Carew, Roberto Clemente, Ichiro—to have difficulty meeting the standard of a superstar, while tending to cause some outstanding players who really were not superstars—Charlie Keller, for example—to identify as superstars.

              To adjust for that, if a player’s secondary bases exceeded his hits by 20% or more, I reduced all of his adjusted Win Share estimates by 5%.  If the player’s secondary bases were 20% LESS than his hits, I increased the adjusted Win Shares by 5%.

              This is an under-adjustment.   The real effect of the batting average illusion is much larger than that, but it is always better, in a project like this, to under-solve a problem than to over-compensate.   If your estimate is too small, you can do something else to further reduce the problem.  If you go too far, you create a different problem that you have to solve.  

              Anyway, those two things are recognition signals—MVP and Cy Young Awards, and high batting averages.  From there, I figured the "Superstar Score" for each player after each season, just as I did before.

              My next task was to ask "Which players should be designated as PERMANENT superstars?"   I decided to call these "transcendent stars"—a higher level of superstars; the term consistent with my earlier article.  Who are the transcendent stars, like Mays and Ruth, who remain superstars even after their production slips a little bit? 

              I am balancing two tasks here:  I am trying to create a mathematical model to recognize superstars, but also, I am trying to create an accurate list of superstars over time.  I first designated as "transcendent stars" the 13 highest-scoring players since 1900, who were Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Eddie Collins, Tris Speaker, Babe Ruth, Rogers Hornsby, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Joe Morgan and Barry Bonds.  I decided to accept those 13 as a list of the transcendent stars who remain superstars as long as they are playing, but with a few amendments.   I took off of the list of transcendent stars Eddie Collins, Rogers Hornsby and Lou Gehrig, and replaced them with Cy Young and Hank Aaron, giving me a list of 12 transcendent stars.

              Eddie Collins I removed because, while he was a great player and he was a superstar, I simply don’t believe that he reached a level of recognition comparable to Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb,

              Rogers Hornsby is listed as Super from 1917 to 1930, which is a long time for a player to be a Superstar.  I removed him then because his career kicks along as a player/manager, not doing very much as a player, for almost a decade after his last great year.   Most of these guys, like Mays and Ruth, the time period between when they would otherwise lose their superstar status and when they retire is just a couple of years.   This has little impact on the system; we’re just saying that Ruth remains a superstar in 1934 and 1935, when his performance would not keep him on the list.   That’s not an issue.   Hornsby hangs around the game not doing very much from 1930 to 1937, and this becomes problematic if he is designated as one of the "permanent" superstars, whereas it is not problematic if he loses his superstar status.   I just think it is more accurate to say that he is NOT a superstar in 1935 than to say that he is.

              And Gehrig is the opposite case.   Gehrig retains his "superstar" designation by the ordinary methods through 1938, and then plays only 8 games at the start of the 1939 season.   The "transcendent star" issue only concerns those eight games in 1939, but it is hard to say that he is one of the superstars of the 1939 season when he really wasn’t playing the last 95% of the schedule.  

              So anyway, Collins, Hornsby and Gehrig out as transcendent stars, super-duper stars, and Aaron and Cy Young in.    Now we have 242 Superstar seasons accounted for, which is the time period between the emergence of each of those players as a superstar, and the end of his career.  

              How many superstar seasons do we want?   How many player/seasons, over the course of the 118 years since 1900, do we designate as "superstar" seasons?

              I decided initially on 1,000.   The logic is this:

              There are, I think, 2,490 team/seasons since 1900.   Let’s say there are four stars per team, that’s 9,960 star/seasons.   Let’s say that 10% of the stars are SUPER stars, that’s 996 player/seasons to be designated as superstars.  OK, 1,000 seasons of Superstardom, of which we have accounted for 242 with the transcendent stars.   Now, how do we decide when a player has achieved Superstar status?

              The highest-scoring players in my system are those that I designate as superstars, based on the player’s running score at its highest point.  The next ten highest-scoring players are Eddie Collins, Rogers Hornsby, Lou Gehrig, Albert Pujols, Joe DiMaggio, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Nap Lajoie, Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera and Jimmie Foxx—three active players, interestingly enough.   But how do we decide when each player BECAME a superstar, and when each player no longer was a superstar?

              I decided that each player becomes a superstar in his first season with 31 or more adjusted Win Shares.   Surprisingly, this very simple rule sees to work satisfactorily almost 100% of the time.  I think the only cases in the study in which this rule did not satisfactorily identify the year in which the players emerged as superstars were Ken Griffey Jr. and Gary Sheffield.  Ken Griffey Jr. had 30 Win Shares—not 31—in 1991, and then, because of the 1994-1995 strike and some other things, never got to 31 Adjusted Win Shares until his MVP season in 1997. 

              Gary Sheffield, on the other hand, (a) qualifies as a superstar, marginally, but he makes the cut, and (b) had a tremendous season in 1992, hitting .330 with 33 homers, 100 RBI.   Sheffield thus is listed as a superstar beginning in 1992.  

              But Sheffield did not play at anything approaching a superstar level in 1993-94-95.   In the three seasons 1993 to 1995 Griffey hit .304 with 102 homers and a 1.008 OPS.   Sheffield in the same three seasons hit .294 with 63 homers and a .924 OPS.  It thus makes no sense to say that Sheffield was a superstar in those three seasons, but that Griffey was not.   So I violated my rules in that case, and listed Griffey as a superstar beginning in 1991, Sheffield not until 1996.   But, kind of remarkably, that’s the only case I noticed in which the 31-Adjusted Win Shares total doesn’t work as the Opening Gate for the Superstar’s period of superstardom.   I’ll run the dates of all of the superstars later; you can debate them as you see fit.   (I guess I would have preferred if Harmon Killebrew’s Superstar dates had begun a little earlier.)

              While working on this, I wondered what I should do if a player reached the Superstar threshold in terms of his Running Score, but never had a season with 31 Adjusted Win Shares.   You COULD do it, if you had seasons like 28, 27, 29, 30, 29, etc.; it’s theoretically possible, but it never happened and it never happened, until I had almost filled out my chart of 1,000 Superstar seasons, and then it did.  It had to; the rule is that if something like this CAN happen, it will. 

              Richie Ashburn in 1958 reaches the standard of a superstar based on his running score, but never has a season with 31 Adjusted Win Shares.

              Thinking about it, I decided that Richie Ashburn was in fact a Superstar, in that one season.   He led the National League in batting, .350; led the major leagues in batting.   He also led the National League in Hits (215), Walks (97), On Base Percentage (.440), Triples (13) and Plate Appearances (725), and missed by one of leading the league in Stolen Bases.   It’s a tremendous season for a leadoff man, to lead the league in Batting Average and Walks and Plate Appearances and On Base Percentage and almost in Stolen Bases; it’s almost a "leadoff man’s Triple Crown."  Also, my memory of this, while vague, is that Ashburn DID receive a great deal of publicity at that time.  I was eight years old, but we had a Sunday School six-page magazine that was handed out to the kids in church, and I remember that it had an article about Richie Ashburn being a great Christian, and I remember seeing an article in some other magazine in which he was teaching kids to bunt.   I decided to designate him as a Superstar, consistent with the process, but just for that one year, since the format of the study leaves it unclear when he became a Superstar or when he ceased to be one.  He is the only one-year Superstar in the study.  

              The next question is, when does a transitional (not transcendant) Superstar cease being a Superstar?  

              Again, I used a simple cutoff, and again, it seems to work very well.   Having established himself as a Superstar, a player remains a Superstar through his last season with 23 or more Adjusted Win Shares.  That sounds so simple that you think it can’t possibly work, but I think it does.   But it’s an inherently arbitrary process, so feel free to make up your own rules and your own results if you have the time.  Let’s look at a few examples to build understanding.

              Jeff Bagwell becomes a Superstar in 1994, the year he won the MVP Award, and remains a superstar through 2001, when he hit .288 with 39 homers, 130 RBI.   Those 2001 numbers are actually down a little bit from his previous standards—first time in several years he had not hit .300, first time in three years he had not hit 40 homers—but if you are a Superstar and you hit 39 homers and drive in 130 runs, you’re still a Superstar. The next year he hit .291 but slipped to 31 homers, 98 RBI, and those are no longer superstar numbers—in 2002.   In another year those might be Superstar numbers, but in 2002 36 players drove in 100 runs.  Players were hitting 50, 60, 70 homers every year back then; it took Big numbers to be a star.

              Yogi Berra became a Superstar in 1950, hitting .322 with 28 homers, 124 RBI, and remained a Superstar through 1959.   In 1960, 35 years old, he hit .276 with 15 homers, 61 RBI, and at that point was no longer a Superstar.

              Wade Boggs became a Superstar in 1983, his second year in the majors, hitting .361 with 92 walks to lead the league in Batting and On Base Percentage, 210 hits, and remained a Superstar through 1991, when he hit .332 with 42 Doubles and a .421 On Base Percentage.   In 1992 he dropped to .259, his OPS dropped from .881 to .711, and at that point he was no longer a Superstar.

              Joe Medwick became a Superstar in 1935, when he hit .353 with 23 homers, 126 RBI, 224 hits, 46 doubles, 132 Runs Scored, all of these figures being career highs, and remained a Superstar through 1941, when he hit .318 with 18 homers, 88 RBI, 100 runs scored.  In 1942 he dropped off to .300 but with only 4 homers, his OPS dropped from .881 to .742, and at that point we remove the "Superstar" tag from him.

              Some of you will remember that Bob Creamer, in his book about the 1941 season, wrote about what a monster star Joe Medwick was at that time, contrasting him with Ted Williams.   He was trying to re-set the reader’s mind, to get the reader to understand that, at that time, Joe Medwick was a much, much bigger star than Ted Williams.   Williams became a Superstar when he hit .400; he wasn’t until then.  Our system agrees.   Our system has Medwick as a Superstar through 1941, Ted Williams as a Superstar beginning in 1941, exactly as Creamer explained in his book about the 1941 season. 

              Richie Ashburn loses his Superstar status after his 1958 season because he never had another season of 23 or more Adjusted Win Shares.   He had many very good seasons prior to 1958, but he never reached "Superstar Mass" until 1958, and then that was his last great season, so then we take the tag away from him. 

              WHETHER a player is a Superstar and WHEN he becomes a Superstar are separate questions in this system.  Yogi Berra didn’t reach Superstar Mass—Critical Mass for a Superstar—until 1953.  Someone else could have done what Berra did in 1950, and not become a Superstar.   But Berra did become a Superstar, so then we face the question, WHEN did he become a Superstar?   "1950" is a better answer than "1953"; it is a better answer than any other. 

              Occasionally a player that we have defined as a Superstar retains the Superstar tag for one year after his last season of 23 or more Adjusted Win Shares, because he still has Superstar Mass.  Superstar Mass is a running score of 550 or more by the system I explained at the start of the article.  Sometimes a player is still above that level after for a year or two after his last season of 23 or more Adjusted Win Shares. What that means is that, if we removed this season from the player’s period of Superstardom, then, because of his running score, he would be the next man on the list to be designated as a Superstar, so obviously he still is.   Johnny Bench was still a Superstar in 1976, for example, and Lou Boudreau was in 1949, and Rod Carew was in 1979.  That’s one reason the simple rule articulated before works as well as it does—that the definition of when a player is a Superstar is protected from dramatic and obvious failure by the fact that there’s a second door open for a hard case.   Rod Carew in 1977 had by far his greatest season, hitting .388 with 239 hits, 128 runs scored, 100 RBI.  It would look odd to say that he had lost his Superstar status just two years later.  The "Superstar Mass" rule means that we don’t have to say that.  

              OK, I have explained the Nuts and Bolts of the system; also the Screws and Washers.  Now I have to confess its failings.  

              This system designated 105 players historically as Superstars, and for a total of 983 player/seasons.    Of those 105 players, 90 I believe are clearly correct designations.  However, five I believe are clearly wrong, players designated as Superstars who were very good players and who had huge impact on their teams, but who should not have been designated as Superstars.  In addition, there are ten designations which I question and think may be wrong; perhaps I might not have described those players as Superstars, plus there are 18 Players who I think clearly should have been designated as Superstars, but who the system missed for some reason—meaning that the system still contains flaws and defects which cause it to fail in some situations.   And then, also there are twenty other players who I think might reasonably have been described as Superstars, but who were not identified by the system as Superstars.  So the system has somewhere between 23 and 53 failures; I’ll leave it to your judgment as to which.   This is clearly much better than my previous effort, which had an intolerable number of failures, but these are the failures:

              1.  The five players who were identified by the system as Superstars but who I think were not were Heine Groh, Frank Howard, Ken Singleton, Jason Giambi and Ryan Braun.   Groh was a long time ago; he had very high on-base percentages in a low-run offensive context, which causes him to pop off the list, and he was a star and was recognized as a very good player, but he was not a superstar. 

              Frank Howard was looked upon as being Superstarish when he first got to the major leagues because he was as big as Aaron Judge and had been an All-American basketball player in college and won the Rookie of the Year Award in 1960 and then had a big season in 1962.   As a young player he had a great throwing arm and ran OK.  After that, though, he struggled and under-performed for four and half years.  By the time he finally put his game together, in July of 1967, his speed and arm were gone and he had gone from one of baseball’s glamour teams, the Dodgers, to one of the ultimate non-glamour teams of baseball history, the expansion Washington Senators.  He was as good a power hitter for three and a half years as anyone in baseball, but he was not a Superstar.

              Ken Singleton was a very, very good player with the Orioles of the 1970s, a switch-hitting .300 hitter who walked a hundred times a year and hit 25-30 homers a year, but I do not think he was a superstar, although my system says that he was.   Giambi and Braun are recent enough that I shouldn’t need to explain anything, but I can’t see that they reached Superstar status.

              2.  The eighteen players who I think were Superstars but who the system fails to recognize as Superstars were, chronologically, Frankie Frisch, Dizzy Dean, Hank Greenberg, Bob Feller, Roy Campanella, Warren Spahn, Denny McLain, Tom Seaver, Willie Stargell, Steve Carlton, Gary Carter, Cal Ripken, Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, Chipper Jones, Derek Jeter, Ichiro Suzuki and Clayton Kershaw. 

              Almost all of these players are just below the standard I have used for a Superstar.  If we simply lowered the standard for "What is a Superstar", then we would pick up as many "false positives" as we would legitimate names; we would start listing Jeff Kent as a superstar, and Cy Seymour and Dixie Walker.  It’s not an unsolvable problem; there is some way to get Cal Ripken on the list without getting Jeff Kent and without causing any other problems.  I just haven’t figured out what it is yet.

              3.  In addition to the five players listed above, there were 10 players identified by the system as Superstars that I think are questionable designations.   I wouldn’t say that these players were NOT Superstars; they’re almost all Hall of Famers.   I just am not convinced that they should be considered Superstars.   Those ten players are Elmer Flick, Sam Crawford, Nellie Fox, Ron Santo, Joe Torre, Keith Hernandez, Tim Raines, Craig Biggio, Gary Sheffield and Andrew McCutchen. 

              4.  In addition to the eighteen listed above, there are twenty-one players in history who I think might be deserving of the Superstar label, but who were not marked as Superstars by the method I used.   Those 21, chronologically, are Addie Joss, Dazzy Vance, Hack Wilson, Chuck Klein, Ralph Kiner, Al Rosen, Roger Maris, Brooks Robinson, Vida Blue, Ferguson Jenkins, Eddie Murray, Don Mattingly, Kirby Puckett, Paul Molitor, Mark McGwire, Roberto Alomar, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, Vladimir Guerrero, Buster Posey and Joey Votto. 

              This, then, is my list of all of the Superstars, 1900 to the present.  We started with a list of 105 Superstars, generated by the formula.  I kicked five of them out but added 18, making a list of 118 Superstars.  These 118 players account for 1,126 seasons of Superstar performance. 

              One "quirk" or limitation of this method is that it sometimes leaves it up in the air whether a player is or is not a Superstar at the present moment.   Miguel Cabrera, for example, clearly was a Superstar from 2006 through 2016.  In 2017 he did not play at a Superstar Level or even at a "star" level, so his period of Superstardom may have ended in 2016.   On the other hand, he may have a couple of fantastic seasons left, and if he does, then we will extend his period of recognized Superstardom to include 2017 and 2018 and perhaps beyond.  

              You can fault the system for this, but in my view, the system has got it right:  we actually don’t know whether his period of Superstardom is over or is not.   The system says that, and it is correct. 

              On the other end, Bryce Harper.  Bryce Harper has not yet qualified as a Superstar in my system and, whatever you think, I do not think that he is a Superstar.   However, he may reach the Superstar standard sometime in the future, and if he does, we will backdate his status to his first season in which he had 31 Adjusted Win Shares.   He had 43.7 Adjusted Win Shares in 2015, a number which would have pushed him near the Superstar level if had followed through with a stronger or 2016 or 2017.  If he does get there, then we’ll say that became a Superstar in 2015—whereas in 2018, we say that he is not yet a Superstar.   

              In the chart that follows, this causes the chart of Superstars to shrink at the present moment, because of the unclear status of players like Harper, Cabrera, Kershaw, Mookie, Kris Bryant, etc.   In 2012 our chart will show there as being eight players in the game who are Superstars.   If we used the same method in 2028 and looked back at 2017, we would no doubt show 8 to 10 active Superstars for 2017.   But looking at it right now, from what we know now, we only have three.   So you can argue about that if you want to. 

              First, a chronological listing of the Players I want to recognize as Superstars:

 

Ed Delahanty, 1900-1902

Lou Boudreau, 1940-1949

Rickey Henderson, 1980-1993

Jesse Burkett, 1900-1905

Ted Williams, 1941-1960

Dale Murphy, 1982-1987

Elmer Flick, 1900-1907

Luke Appling, 1943-1947

Robin Yount, 1982-1989

Cy Young, 1900-1911

Stan Musial, 1943-1963

Wade Boggs, 1983-1991

Honus Wagner, 1900-1917

Hal Newhouser, 1944-1949

Cal Ripken, 1983-1991

Nap Lajoie, 1901-1913

Warren Spahn, 1947-1963

Ryne Sandberg, 1984-1993

Joe McGinnity, 1903-1906

Jackie Robinson, 1949-1953

Tim Raines, 1985-1992

Christy Mathewson, 1903-1914

Yogi Berra, 1950-1959

Roger Clemens, 1986-2005

Sam Crawford, 1905-1915

Roy Campanella, 1951-1955

Will Clark, 1988-1992

Three Finger Brown, 1906-1911

Robin Roberts, 1952-1955

Barry Bonds, 1990-2007

Ed Walsh, 1907-1913

Mickey Mantle, 1952-1968

Ken Griffey Jr., 1991-1999

Ty Cobb, 1907-1928

Duke Snider, 1953-1957

Frank Thomas, 1991-2000

Tris Speaker, 1909-1928

Eddie Mathews, 1953-1963

Greg Maddux, 1992-2000

Eddie Collins, 1909-1924

Willie Mays, 1954-1973

Craig Biggio,1992-2001

Walter Johnson, 1910-1927

Hank Aaron, 1956-1976

Mike Piazza, 1993-2000

Home Run Baker, 1911-1918

Nellie Fox, 1957-1960

Jeff   Bagwell, 1994-2001

Joe Jackson, 1911-1920

Richie Ashburn, 1958

Gary Sheffield, 1996-2005

Grover Cleveland, 1911-1927

Ernie Banks, 1958-1960

Alex Rodriguez, 1996-2009

George Sisler, 1916-1922

Frank Robinson, 1961-1973

Pedro Martinez, 1997-2002

Babe Ruth, 1916-1935

Sandy Koufax, 1963-1966

Sammy Sosa, 1998-2003

Rogers Hornsby, 1917-1930

Ron Santo, 1964-1969

Randy Johnson, 1999-2002

Frankie Frisch, 1921-1931

Roberto Clemente, 1964-1971

Chipper Jones, 1999-2008

Harry Heilmann, 1923-1928

Dick Allen, 1964-1974

Derek Jeter, 1999-2013

Al Simmons, 1925-1934

Billy Williams, 1965-1972

Ichiro Suzuki, 2001-2010

Paul Waner, 1927-1937

Harmon Killebrew, 1966-1970

Albert Pujols, 2002-2012

Lou Gehrig, 1927-1938

Willie McCovey, 1966-1974

Joe Mauer, 2006-2013

Mickey Cochrane, 1928-1935

Carl Yastrzemski, 1967-1971

Miguel Cabrera, 2006-2016

Jimmie Foxx, 1929-1940

Denny McLain, 1968-1969

Robinson Cano, 2010-2017

Bill Terry, 1930-1935

Bob Gibson, 1968-1972

Clayton Kershaw, 2011-2014

Lefty Grove, 1930-1939

Pete Rose, 1968-1979

Andrew McCutchen, 2012-2016

Joe Cronin, 1930-1941

Tom Seaver, 1969-1977

Mike Trout, 2012-2017

Mel Ott, 1932-1944

Reggie Jackson, 1969-1980

Jose Altuve, 2014-2017

Carl Hubbell, 1933-1937

Johnny Bench, 1970-1976

 

Arky Vaughan, 1933-1943

Joe Torre, 1971-72

 

Dizzy Dean, 1934-1936

Willie Stargell, 1971-1979

 

Charlie Gehringer, 1934-1939

Gaylord Perry, 1972-1978

 

Hank Greenberg, 1934-1947

Steve Carlton, 1972-1982

 

Joe Medwick, 1935-1941

Rod Carew, 1974-1979

 

Johnny Mize, 1937-1948

Mike Schmidt, 1974-1987

 

Joe DiMaggio, 1937-1950

George Brett, 1976-1990

 

Bob Feller, 1939-1947

Dave Parker, 1977-1985

 
 

Keith Hernandez, 1979-1986

 
 

Joe Morgan, 1972-1984

 
 

Jim Palmer, 1973-1978

 

 

 

              And here is a series of timeline charts of all of the Superstars:

 

1900

1901

1902

1903

1904

1905

1906

1907

1908

1909

1910

1911

1912

1913

5

6

6

7

7

8

8

9

8

10

11

14

12

12

Ed Delahanty

                   

 

Jesse Burkett, 1900-1905

             

 

Elmer Flick, 1900-1907

         

 

Cy Young, 1900-1911               Cy Young, 1900-1911

 

 

Honus Wagner, 1900-1917            Honus Wagner, 1900-1917

 

Nap Lajoie, 1901-1913                    Nap Lajoie, 1901-1913

 

   

Joe McGinnity, 03-06

           

 

 

   

Christy Mathewson, 1903-1914      Mathewson, 1903-1914

 

       

Sam Crawford, 1905-1915

 

         

Three Finger Brown, 1906-1911

 

 

 

           

Ed Walsh, 1907-1913

 

           

Ty Cobb, 1907-1928

 

               

Tris Speaker, 1909-1928

 

               

Eddie Collins, 1909-1924

 

                 

Walter Johnson

 

                   

Baker

 

                   

Jackson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alexander

 

 


 

 

 

1910

1911

1912

1913

1914

1915

1916

1917

1918

1919

1920

1921

1922

1923

11

14

12

12

10

8

10

11

10

9

9

9

9

9

Cy Young

                     

 

Honus Wagner, 1900-1917 

         

 

Nap Lajoie, 1901-1913

                 

 

Christy Mathewson, 1903-14

               

 

Sam Crawford, 1905-1915

             

 

Brown

                     

 

Ed Walsh, 1907-1913

                 

 

Ty Cobb, 1907-1928          Ty Cobb, 1907-1928    Ty Cobb, 1907-1928

Tris Speaker, 1909-1928     Tris Speaker,1909-1928  Tris Speaker, 1909-1928

Eddie Collins, 1909-1914    Eddie Collins, 1909-1924   Eddie Colins, 1909-1924

Walter Johnson, 1910-1927  Walter Johnson, 1910-1927  Walter Johnson-1910-1927

 

Home Run Baker

 

1911-1918

       

 

 

Shoeless Joe Jackson, 1911-1920

   

 

 

Grover Cleveland Alexander 1911-1927      Alexander 1911-1927

 

         

Babe Ruth, 1916-1935

 

           

Rogers Hornsby, 1917-1930

 

                   

Frisch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HH

 

 

 


 

1920

1921

1922

1923

1924

1925

1926

1927

1928

1929

1930

1931

1932

1933

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

11

10

8

11

10

10

12

Ty Cobb, 1907-1928    Ty Cobb, 1907-1928

       

 

Tris Speaker, 1909-1928    Tris Speaker, 1909-1928

       

 

Eddie Collins, 1909-1924

               

 

Walter Johnson, 1910-1927

         

 

Joe

                       

 

Grover Cleveland Alexander, 1911-1927

         

 

Sisler, 1916-1922

                   

 

Babe Ruth, 1916-1935     Babe Ruth, 1916-1935    Babe Ruth, 1916-1935

Rogers Hornsby, 1917-1930     Rogers Hornsby, 1917-1930

   

 

 

Frankie Frisch, 1921-1931    Frankie Frisch, 1921-1931

 

 

 

   

Harry Heilmann, 1923-1928

       

 

 

       

Al Simmons, 1925-1934

 

           

Paul Waner, 1927-1937

 

           

Lou Gehrig, 1927-1938

 

             

Mickey Cochrane, 1928-1935

 

               

Jimmie Foxx, 1929-1940

 

                 

Bill Terry, 1930-1935

 

                 

Lefty Grove, 1930-1939

 

                 

Joe Cronin, 1930-1941

 

                     

Mel Ott

 

                       

Carl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arky

 


 

 

1930

1931

1932

1933

1934

1935

1936

1937

1938

1939

1940

1941

1942

1943

11

10

10

12

15

15

12

13

11

11

10

6

6

5

Babe Ruth, 1916-1935

             

 

Rajah

                       

 

Frisch

                     

 

Al Simmons, 1925-1934

               

 

Paul Waner, 1927-1937

         

 

Lou Gehrig, 1927-1938

       

 

Mickey Cochrane, 1928-1935

             

 

Jimmie Foxx, 1929-1940          Jimmie Foxx, 1929-1940

   

 

Bill Terry, 1930-1935

             

 

Lefty Grove, 1930-1939   Lefty Grove, 1930-1939

     

 

Joe Cronin, 1930-1941      Joe Cronin, 1930-1941

 

 

 

 

Mel Ott, 1932-1944      Mel Ott, 1932-1944    Mel Ott,  1932-1944

 

   

Carl Hubbell, 1933-1937

         

 

 

   

Arky Vaughan, 1933-1943     Arky Vaughan, 1933-1943

 

     

Dizzy Dean

           

 

 

     

Charlie Gehringer, 1934-1939

     

 

 

     

Hank Greenberg, 1934-1947

 

 

 

       

Joe Medwick, 1935-1941

 

 

 

           

Johnny Mize, 1937-1948

 

 

           

Joe DiMaggio, 1937-1950

 

 

               

Bob Feller, 39-47

 

 

 

                 

Lou Boudreau, 1940-49

 

                   

Teddy

 

 

                       

Luke

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1940

1941

1942

1943

1944

1945

1946

1947

1948

1949

1950

1951

1952

1953

10

6

6

5

4

5

9

10

7

7

6

6

8

10

Foxx

                       

 

Joe Cronin

                     

 

Mel Ott, 1932-1944

               

 

Arky Vaughan, 1933-43

                 

 

Hank

     

Greenberg, 34-47

         

 

Medwick

                     

 

Johnny Mize

     

Mize, 1937-1948

       

 

Joe DiMaggio

     

Joe DiMaggio, 1937-1950

   

 

Bob Feller

     

Feller, 1939-1947

         

 

Lou Boudreau, 1940-1949    Lou Boudreau, 1940-1949

     

 

 

Ted

     

Ted Williams, 1941-1960

 

   

Luke

 

Apping 1943-47

         

 

 

   

Musial

 

Stan Musial, 1943-1963

 

     

Hal Newhouser, 1944-1949

     

 

 

           

Warren Spahn, 1947-1963

 

               

Jackie Robiinson, 1949-1953

 

                 

Yogi Berra, 1950-1959

 

                   

Campanela

 

                     

Roberts

 

                     

Mantle

 

                       

Duke

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EM

 

 

 


 

1950

1951

1952

1953

1954

1955

1956

1957

1958

1959

1960

1961

1962

1963

6

6

8

10

10

10

9

10

11

10

9

7

7

8

JoeD

                       

 

Ted Williams 1941-1960     Ted Williams, 1941-1960

   

 

Stan Musial, 1943-1963     Stan Musial,  1943-1963    Stan Musial, 1943-1963

Warren Spahn, 1947-1963    Warren Spahn, 1947-1963    Warren Spahn, 1947-1963

Jackie Robinson, 49-53

                 

 

Yogi Berra, 1950-1959          Yogi Berra, 1950-1959

     

 

 

Roy Campanella, 1951-1955

             

 

 

 

Robin Roberts, 1952-55

             

 

 

 

Mickey Mantle, 1952-1958          Mickey Mantle, 1952-1958

 

   

Duke Snider, 1953-1957

         

 

 

   

Eddie Mathews, 1953-1963       Eddie Mathews, 1953-1963

 

     

Willie Mays, 1954-1973    Willie Mays, 1954-1973

 

         

Hank Aaron, 1956-1976

 

           

Nellie Fox, 1957-1960

   

 

 

         

Richie

1958

Ashburn

   

 

 

             

Ernie Banks

   

 

 

                   

Frank Robinson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SK

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

1960

1961

1962

1963

1964

1965

1966

1967

1968

1969

1970

1971

1972

1973

9

7

7

8

8

9

11

11

14

15

14

15

16

14

Ted

                       

 

Musial, 1943-1963

                 

 

Spahn, 1947-1963

                 

 

Mickey Mantle, 1952-1968  Mickey Mantle, 1952-1968

       

 

Ed Mathews, 1953-63

                 

 

Willie Mays, 1954-1973     Willie Mays 1954-1973    Willie Mays, 1954-1973

Hank Aaron, 1956-1976    Hank Aaron, 1956-1976   Hank Aaron, 1956-1976

Fox

                       

 

EB

                       

 

 

Frank Robinson, 1961-1973          Frank Robinson, 1961-1973

 

   

Sandy  Koufax, 1963-66

           

 

 

     

Ron Santo, 1964-1969

     

 

 

     

Roberto Clemente, 1964-1971

 

 

 

     

Dick Allen, 1964-1974          Dick Allen, 1964-1974

 

       

Billy Williams, 1965-1972

 

 

         

Harmon Killebrew, 1966-1970

   

 

 

         

Willie McCovey, 1966-1974  McCovey  1966-74

 

           

Yastrzemski, 1967-1971

 

 

 

             

D McLain

     

 

 

             

Bob Gibson, 1968-1972

 

 

             

Pete Rose, 1968-1979

 

               

Tom Seaver, 1969-1977

 

               

Reggie Jackson, 1969-1980

 

                 

Bench, 1970-1976

 

                   

Joe Torre

 

 

                   

Willie Stargell

 

                     

Gaylord

 

                     

Carlton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Morgan

 

 


 

 

 

1970

1971

1972

1973

1974

1975

1976

1977

1978

1979

1980

1981

1982

1983

14

15

16

14

14

11

12

12

11

10

8

7

9

10

Willie Mays, 1954-1973

                 

 

Hank Aaron, 1956-1976

           

 

Frank Robinson, 1961-73

                 

 

Clemente

                     

 

Dick Allen, 1964-1974

               

 

B Williams, 65-72

                   

 

HK

                       

 

Willie McCovey, 1966-1974

               

 

Yaz, 67-71

                     

 

Gibson, 1968-71

                   

 

Pete Rose, 1968-1979                  Pete Rose 1968-1979

     

 

Tom Seaver, 1969-1977

         

 

Reggie Jackson, 1969-1980        Reggie Jackson, 1969-1980

   

 

Johnny Bench, 1970-1976

           

 

 

Torre 71-72

                   

 

 

Willie Stargell, 1971-1979

     

 

 

 

Gaylord Perry, 1972-1978

       

 

 

 

Steve  Carlton, 1972-1982     Steve Carlton, 1972-1982

 

 

 

Joe Morgan, 1972-1984       Joe Morgan, 1972-1984

 

   

Jim Palmer, 1973-1978

       

 

 

     

Rod Carew, 1974-1979

     

 

 

     

Mike Schmidt, 1974-1987

 

         

George Brett, 1976-1990

 

           

Dave Parker, 1977-1985

 

               

Keith Hernandez, 1979-1986

 

                 

Rickey H, 1980-1993

 

                     

D Murphy

 

                     

Yount

 

                       

WB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CR

 


 

1980

1981

1982

1983

1984

1985

1986

1987

1988

1989

1990

1991

1992

1993

8

7

9

10

12

12

11

10

9

9

9

10

10

9

RJ

                       

 

S Carlton, 1972-82

                   

 

Joe Morgan,1972-1984

               

 

Mike Schmidt, 1974-1987

         

 

George Brett, 1976-1990              George Brett, 1976-1990

   

 

Dave Parker, 1977-1985

             

 

Keith Hernandez, 1979-1986

           

 

Rickey Henderson, 1980-1993              Rickey Henderson, 1980-1993 

 

 

Dale Murphy, 1982-1987

         

 

 

 

Robin Yount, 1982-1989

     

 

 

   

Wade Boggs, 1983-1991

 

 

 

   

Cal Ripken, 1983-1991

 

 

 

     

Ryne Sandberg, 1984-1993

 

       

Tim Raines, 1985-1992

 

 

         

Roger Clemens, 1986-2005

 

             

Will Clark, 1988-1992

 

 

                 

Barry Bonds,1990-2007

 

                   

Ken Griffey Jr.

 

                   

Frank Thomas

 

                     

Maddux

 

                     

Biggio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MP

 


 

1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

9

10

10

9

9

8

10

11

12

15

14

12

11

9

GB

                       

 

Rickey Henderson, 80-93

                 

 

Boggs

                     

 

Ripken

                     

 

Ryne Sandberg, 1984-1993

                 

 

Tim Raines

                   

 

Roger Clemens, 1986-2005     Roger Clemens, 1986-2005    Roger Clemens, 1986-2005

Will Clark, 88-92

                   

 

Barry Bonds, 1990-2007     Barry Bonds, 1990-2007     Barry Bonds, 1990-2007

 

Ken Griffey Jr., 1991-1999

     

 

 

Frank Thomas, 1991-2000

   

 

 

 

Greg Maddux, 1992-2000

   

 

 

 

Craig Biggio, 1992-2001

 

 

 

   

Mike Piazza, 1993-2000

   

 

 

     

Jeff Bagwell, 1994-2001

 

 

 

         

Gary Sheffield, 1996-2005

 

         

Alex Rodriguez, 1996-2009

 

           

Pedro Martinez, 1997-2002

 

 

             

Sammy Sosa, 1998-2003

 

               

Randy Johnson, 99-02

 

 

               

Chipper Jones, 1999-2008

 

               

Derek Jeter, 1999-2013

 

                   

Ichiro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pujols

 

 


 

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

14

12

11

9

8

8

8

8

7

6

6

6

8

6

Roger Clemens, 1986-2005

             

 

Barry Bonds, 1990-2007

         

 

FT

                       

 

GM

                       

 

Biggio

                     

 

MP

                       

 

Bagwell

                     

 

Gary Sheffield, 1996-2005

             

 

Alex Rodriguez, 1996-2009    Alex Rodriguez, 1996-2009

     

 

Pedro, 1997-02

                   

 

Sammy Sosa,  1998-03

                 

 

Big Unit, 99-02

                   

 

Chipper Jones, 1999-2008     Chipper Jones, 1999-2008

       

 

Derek Jeter, 1999-2013       Derek Jeter, 1999-2013       Derek Jeter, 1999-2013

 

Ichiro Suzuki, 2001-2010   Ichiro Suzuki, 2001-2010

   

 

 

 

Albert Pujols, 2002-2012          Albert Pujols, 2002-2012

 

 

         

Joe Mauer, 2006-2013

 

         

Miguel Cabrera, 2006-2016

 

                 

Robinson Cano, 2010-2017

 

                   

Kershaw

 

                     

McCutchen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trout

 

 


 

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

6

6

8

6

6

5

5

3

Derek Jeter, 1999-2013

     

 

Ichiro

           

 

Pujols, 2002-2012

       

 

Joe Mauer, 2006-2013

     

 

Miguel Cabrera, 2006-2016

 

Robinson Cano, 2010-2017     Robinson Cano, 2010-2017

 

Clayton Kershaw, 2011-2014

   

 

 

 

Andrew McCutchen, 2012-2016

 

 

 

Mike Trout, 2012-2017     Mike Trout, 2012-2017

 

 

 

 

Jose Altuve, 2014-2017

 

 

              OK, one final observation, and then I’m done here.   In the companion article that I published a couple of weeks ago, "So What Is a Superstar?", I included this paragraph:

 

          About 1964 or 1965, someone wrote an article for Sport Magazine about the disappearance of superstars.   Fairly sure it was Arnold Hano; also fairly sure that one of you readers can identify the article and the publication date, etc.   Anyway, the thesis of the article was that Superstars were disappearing from baseball, that there used to be many more of them, but that now there were only three—Mays, Mantle and Koufax—and they were the last ones; after them there would not be any more.  The conditions that created superstars had disappeared, and they would never come back. That always stuck with me; it seemed such a curious thing to say.  It’s been 50-some years, but I still remember lines from that article like you would remember a nursery rhyme. It was the first time I became aware of the.  . .the conflict, the consternation and confusion, which has always circled around this word. 

              But having done this work, I now understand Hano’s position, Hano’s misunderstanding, a little bit better.  Hano thought that there were only three Superstars active in (about) 1965, writing off as Superstars not only Roberto Clemente (Who Hano very greatly admired) but also Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, Billy Williams and others.    My article has concluded that there are only three players now who have proven Superstar credentials—Trout, Altuve, and the pre-injury, pre-drug test Robinson Cano.  This is ignoring Aaron Judge, Bryce Harper, Giancarlo Stanton, Mookie Betts, Max Scherzer, Justin Verander, Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, and others.  

              But there is this difference.  I am not suggesting that these men have fallen short of Superstardom; I am merely saying that I am not certain that they are Superstars at this moment.  I wonder if Hano was not, in a sense, following the same pathway that I have followed, only following it by intuition mixed with memory, whereas I am following it by intuition mixed with statistical standards. 

              I am reading Michael Lewis book, The Undoing Project, about the glitches in the way that we all reason about problems, the Recency Bias and the Hindsight Bias and the Availability Bias, etc..    I wonder if this is another one of those biases:  the Partial View Bias.  I just invented that phrase; I am sure psychologists must have noticed the same thing and given it some other name.

              The Partial View Bias occurs when we attempt to compare the present to the past.   Comparing Mike Trout to Mickey Mantle, we have a full view of what Mantle accomplished, whereas we have only a partial view of what Mike Trout will accomplish.   We thus naturally think that Mantle was greater than Trout, because we are comparing 100% of A to 35 or 40% of B. 

              Or, on the other hand. . .. I personally think that Mookie Betts is, for all practical purposes, a duplicate of Willie Mays.  I don’t think there is any meaningful difference between Mookie Betts now and Willie Mays in 1956.  However, while Mays is listed as a Superstar from 1954 until the end of his career, Mookie is not on the list.  I recognize this as a Partial View Bias.   The difference between Hano and myself, essentially, is that Hano did not realize that he was dealing with a Partial View Bias.  You might think, instinctively, that any moron would realize that there was that bias, but in fact it is exceedingly common for people to be deceived by the Partial View Bias into incredible misjudgments.  People be-rate the present and exalt the past all the time. 

              The Partial View Bias is, I would argue, merely one of several biases that complicate political and cultural debates in which the past is contrasted with the present.  When we compare the politicians of NOW, the politicians of our own time, with the leaders of the past, we almost always favor those of the past.   I remember thinking, in the 2016 Presidential Contest, that the choice between Hilary Clinton and Our Beloved Leader had to be the sorriest set of options of all time.   But then, I’m old; I remember thinking the same thing about George Bush and John Kerry; I remember thinking the same thing about Bill Clinton and Bob Dole; I remember thinking the same thing about Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale.   I remember thinking the same thing about Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon. 

              A second present-to-past distortion is the fear of the unknown.  People hated Reagan, in part, because they were afraid that he was going to lead us into World War III.  Since we know now that he did not, that worry is not relevant.   The dangers that he represented to his own time are not an element in how we judge him now—whereas the fear of the uncertainties of the future is always an element of our thought processes in choosing our next President. 

              On the other side, of course, unrealistic hopes.  The future may prove that back in 2018 I had unrealistic hopes about Mookie Betts.   That’s a third past-to-present distortion. 

              A fourth present-to-past distortion is, of course, selective memory.   We see our President’s untruthful statements day to day; we have forgotten 99% of LBJ’s, but frankly, the man couldn’t tell the truth to save his soul.  His failings no longer matter, so they are no longer remembered. 

              This is not the last word about Superstars; it is merely the last paragraph of this article.   There is some way to compare Mookie to Willie Mays which is better than what I have done here.  Thanks for reading.  

 
 

COMMENTS (38 Comments, most recent shown first)

Marc Schneider
HerbOf4,

I reread your comment and perhaps I overreacted. Sorry. I think Unitas was made a "superstar" by the 1958 NFL Championship Game, the so-called "Greatest Game Ever Played" (it wasn't). Being played in NY and the first big nationally televised game that a large portion of people watched certainly propelled Unitas into the national conscious. But he was generally considered the best QB in the NFL for most of the 1960s until he hurt his arm.

However, I stand by my position that rule and strategy changes in the 80s and 90s made the NFL a very different game than that which Unitas played. So, I think you have to consider that when looking at Unitas' statistics. And certainly that's true of Joe Namath, although I think there is a better argument for Namath's superstardom coming primarily from one game plus his NY bachelor lifestyle.
12:26 PM May 31st
 
Marc Schneider
I" just meant that statistically, Unitas doesn't measure up. Bob Greise was a "superstar" of his era but his stats don't measure up either. Nor Starr's. Perhaps for the era and in that context, sure. I wasn't slamming Unitas. I love him.But he had a 54% career completion percentage and close to a 1 to 1 TD to INT ratio. "

Herbof4,

I think the problem with your statement is that you are ignoring the effects of rule changes on QB stats. I agree that if you look at raw numbers, Unitas does not measure up to current QBs (and maybe not even to him contemporary Sonny Jurgensen). But if you put Tom Brady or Peyton Manning in a scenario where defenses were playing under 1960 or 1970 rules, I suspect their numbers would be a lot closer to those of Unitas. They certainly would not be what they are under the current rules. QBs threw a lot more interceptions during Unitas' era because, part (1) defenses were able to manhandle receivers; and (2) offenses didn't have the checkdowns and West Coast offenses today; they threw a lot more downfield.

As for the 54 completion percentage, again, that's largely a function of the defense-friendly rules of the time. When I was a kid anything over 50% was considered good. No one would even have dreamed of 65 or 70% like that do today. The rule changes that started in the 80s really made it much easier to complete passes and, thereby, changed the context of QB numbers. I'm pretty sure if you put Unitas (or Jurgensen, for example) in today's rules, their numbers would be much better. It is much harder to cover receivers today. So, if you are going to talk about statistics, I think you have to consider the context.

Now, looking at their numbers, it might be that Sonny Jurgensen was extremely underrated. His passing percentage and passer ratings were higher than Unitas and his TD/INT rate is 1.3 compared to 1.1. Jurgensen's highest percentage was 62% playing under Vince Lombardi in 1969. But that still doesn't compare to what even second level QBs today get. Manning and Brady's numbers are far superior, in terms of TDs, percentage, and TD/INT ratio, but that's largely because they are/were playing in what is almost a different game. I still think Unitas rates as a superstar even on the numbers if you consider the different context.




1:09 PM May 30th
 
ajmilner
We've gone this far without bringing up Bo Jackson -- nobody here would put him in the HOF, but 30 years ago most non-baseball fans would have considered him a baseball superstar.
7:01 PM May 23rd
 
klamb819
Thinking about different ways that might "get Cal Ripken on the list without getting Jeff Kent" (or adding Feller without Rick Reuschel). . . . You've no doubt considered most of this, but I'm also offering feedback on some players as an added benefit — Is that the word I'm looking for? Maybe it's "nuisance". Oh, well. To-mayto, To-mahto. . . .

Would it help to treat pitcher wins the way you treated batting average (except with bonus points for 20 and 30 wins, instead of a formula)? Looking at your #2 list of Superstars who the system fails to recognize as Superstars, the first thing I noticed was it included both Dean and Spahn — the exemplars of a career that's all peak, and a career that's all plateau.

What made them stand out were the very high-impact seasons in one case, and the staccato repetition of consecutive stellar seasons in the other. Along with singular accomplishments, those seem to be three three entry gates to Superstardom. And they're common to most of the players listed as being just a nudge away from the system's qualifications (although with Frankie Frisch, you're on your own). ;—)

So if it's a big, sound-the-trumpets deal to win 30, and to win 20 games two, three, six times in a row, give them both bonus points. Spahn and Dean also had streaks of leading the NL in strikeouts, as did Seaver, Feller and Dazzy Vance. Fergie even matched Spahn's longest 20-win streak of six (although without Spahn's additional seven years).

One or two Cy Youngs aren't so uncommon, but Seaver's third? Big bonus for that. Same with Kershaw's and Scherzer's, plus Campy's third MVP. This thinking would catapult Clemens way across the line. Lefty and Pedro had interruptions in all their streaks, but they also had two of the most extreme outlier seasons. Lots of bonus points for less than half the league's ERA, or more than 40% of the team's wins.

Aren't bonuses an integral part of Superstardom anyway? Roger Maris didn't have to pass Go. He just broke the home run record, and pow! Superstar before half his hair could fall out. Same with McGwire and Wilson, who broke the league record when league records meant something. McLain broke a 34-year-old barrier, which hasn't been broken again for 50 years. Singular achievements made all of them superstars, as did World Series MVPs for Brooks and Stargell. Puckett didn't even win the Series MVP, but his Game 6 was more memorable than the MVP series of Clendenon, Dempsey, Rijo or Jermaine Dye. What about David Freese's Game 6? Just as big, but without enough foundation for it to matter.

That's an option, too, if all this Bonus talk is sounding promiscuous. Require a minimum threshold of eligibility for some or all bonuses.

Six players on the list clear a high All-Star threshold by making at least 10 teams, many with other credentials: Carter, Puckett, Alomar, Manny, Jeter and Ichiro, and Yadi only needs two more. Kiner, Klein, Ichiro, Kershaw and Votto have significant streaks.

Besides his OBP streak, Votto has a much greater streak that shows batters can have threshold bonuses like 20 wins for pitchers. Beginning with his second season, Votto had five straight years of at least 155 OPS+. His second knee injury broke that streak in 2014, but his OPS+ has been at least 160 the past three years. (After knee surgery In 2012, he led the NL in OBP with a 160 OPS+ even after adding 27 hitless ABs to reach 502 plate appearances.) And yet, Votto's 2011 Gold Glove still outnumbers his Silver Sluggers.

If pitchers wind up with the larger share of Bonus Points, that would be an added benefit, considering comments here that suggest the system under-credits pitchers for both reaching the pedestal and how long they're atop it. Marichal, Ryan, Mariano, Verlander, Scherzer and maybe Tiant pass the Feels-Like Test. Rivera has some amazing threshold streaks of an ERA+ of at least 200. He did it four straight years three separate times, the last at ages 38-41.

Limit Bonus Points to the most eye-popping accomplishments, sure. But those are the things that deserve extra credit because they're what transforms stars into superstars
5:57 PM May 23rd
 
HerbOf4
Marc Schneider:

I just meant that statistically, Unitas doesn't measure up. Bob Greise was a "superstar" of his era but his stats don't measure up either. Nor Starr's. Perhaps for the era and in that context, sure. I wasn't slamming Unitas. I love him.But he had a 54% career completion percentage and close to a 1 to 1 TD to INT ratio.

Maybe I worded it poorly and I get that it was a different era, but the point I was trying to make and what I was exploring is that sometimes there's more to being a "superstar" than the spreadsheets and the mathematical approach Bill used here where it's all just numbers. That's all I meant. I was spitballing and thinking of athletes that didn't set the world on fire with mind bending stats like Marino, Jordan, Lemieux or Bonds but who crossed over into tabloids, front pages, magazines and stuff like that and became famous "superstars" in other ways.

Keith Hernandez was on Seinfeld. I wouldn't put him in my top 300 all time MLB players. Probably Rodman and Fridge are the best examples of what I was trying to convey when I wrote what I did. Rocky Blier comes to mind too. Guy was in TV commercials when I was a kid advertising batteries I think.

Some guys transcend the sport for reasons beyond their athleticism and accomplishments and I thought it was glossed over a little in the article but I didn't mean to say any of those guys I mentioned suck. Sorry if I offended anyone's sensibilities. I was referring more to the "Mean Joe Greene Factor", where their publicity ADDED to their superstardom. That Coca Cola ad had as much to with his stardom than his play and it made him a household name.

The article didn't seem to weigh that "Q Rating" or whatever it is into the discussion and I think that's a part of it.
4:15 PM May 23rd
 
MWeddell
Al Kaline is my favorite player of all time, but I think it's correct that he's not regarded as a superstar. For example, you may remember that he was essentially, perhaps completely, ignored from the epic-length Ken Burns Baseball documentary. Kaline won a batting title at an early age but essentially was a steady player thereafter within the high peak needed to be a superstar (see Bill's Raines / Gwynn discussion earlier in these comments.

Perhaps of relevance to the Gallery of Renown debates we have, it's interesting to see Kershaw made the cut as a superstar but not Johan Santana or Roy Halladay. In general, it seems difficult for modern starters and impossible for modern relievers to become superstars.
2:45 PM May 23rd
 
Riceman1974
Interesting that Mattingly isn't a superstar by this method. For a good 3-4 year period he was considered the best player in baseball. By his peers, by the fans, by the press. I thought he was the best player, and I am a Red Sox fan who hated seeing him at the plate. That stupid crouch jump-swing with those broad shoulders and insane mustache. Ugh.

Still, his injuries ended his career early so like Nomar, he had only 5-6 full seasons and then lingered at 50% capacity for nearly a decade. But when he was in his prime he was something else. Again, this is a Red Sox fan talking.
2:14 PM May 23rd
 
klamb819
No, Fridge was famous because he scored a TD on Monday Night Football and was both jubilant and awkward in his celebration. Also because Ditka was a rare coach who cared about TV hype and knew how to milk it.

He picked regular fights with other NFC Central teams. One year he decided to keep calling the Metrodome the Rollerdome. Later on, he roller skated into the room for his press conference.​
12:31 PM May 23rd
 
FrankD
another quibble..... need to have Joe D and even Teddy Ballgame as continuation superstars during WWII. I see that you did carry Teddy during his Korean War callup.......
11:24 AM May 23rd
 
pgaskill
Marc Schneider, I totally agree with you. Unitas was the NFL superstar of superstars of his era, and Bart Starr wasn't far behind him. The Refrigerator, on the other hand, was famous only because of John Madden's playing him up on TV because of his nickname. He might have been very good, but he was not anywhere near a superstar in the way Unitas was.

I do agree with Dennis Rodman and Brian Bosworth being on Herbof4's list of "underqualified superstars" (my term), as they indeed were (in)famous for other things than sports stardom.
10:11 AM May 23rd
 
Marc Schneider
Herbof4,

"even a few athletes who weren't even the very the best in their sport and were flash in the pans of sorts, but transcended it somehow and grew larger to became household names. Athletes like Lou Brock, Bart Starr, Johnny Unitas, Pistol Pete Maravich, Dennis Rodman, Brian Bozworth and William "The Fridge" Perry who crossed over into a different realm of super stardom."

I may be misreading your comment, but are you including Johnny Unitas in this category along with Brian Bozworth? If so, I think you need to rethink this. Unitas was certainly considered the best QB in his day and clearly one of the best of all time, especially when you adjust for the era and rule changes, etc. Putting him in this list is, IMO, utterly absurd. I don't know how old you are, but by any standards, Unitas was a superstar. His name has faded a bit as the rule changes in football have changed the numbers for QBs, but I guarantee Johnny Unitas was a superstar. In fact, the entire list is rather weird, listing William Perry with Bart Starr?
8:53 AM May 23rd
 
klamb819
Ernie Banks adds an odd dimension to the concept of superstar. He stopped being a star after 1960, when his production fell off a shelf. Yet in 1969, he was an everyday player at a key offensive position for a pennant contender in spite of production that was below replacement level. And the only reason he played regularly — maybe the only reason he had a job — was that he was a superstar.

I was in college in suburban Chicago during Banks' last few season. Durocher periodically floated the idea that Banks should no longer be a regular, and from the reaction, you'd have thought he called for the demolition of Wrigley Field. So my suggestion is this: Permanent status for anyone whose national nickname includes his team's name. Wouldn't that only affect Banks and DiMaggio?

Maybe also for anyone who broke the color barrier or played in 2,500 consecutive games.

* * * *
There's also a player I would remove from your list of transcendent stars, based on living much of my life among Joe Morgan's fan base in Reds territory. I know Morgan was the best player on the Big Red Machine. Probably everyone here knows that. But I am reasonably certain that if you took a poll in Southwest Ohio and contiguous parts of Kentucky and Indiana, asking who was the biggest star on that team, Morgan would finish a distant third behind Rose and Bench. I've often asked that question myself, in a (usually futile) attempt to correct the record. If you expanded the time frame back to the 1961 pennant, Frank Robinson would probably beat out Morgan, too.

It's a symptom of the hits/secondary bases issue that you pointed out.

Morgan's career also had a long tail. After 1977, his OPS+ was 110 over six of his last seven seasons, playing for five teams. His 136 for the Giants at age 38 was an exception, and he helped the Phillies win a pennant the next year, but I wonder if he had the auxiliary elements to remain a superstar for several years after he stopped playing like one.

. . . This was excellent, by the way. A subject so rife with intangibles is not obviously conducive to statistical analysis, but you pulled it off. And the timeline was a master stroke, well worth the pain I'm sure it was to put together.​
8:15 AM May 23rd
 
HerbOf4
Great article, Bill. Really good. Takes me back and makes me miss your Abstracts.

I think one of the most important elements, which you explored a bit, is the sort of "flashpoint" or celebrity element that brings a player's name into the common vernacular that moves them from the cover of SI to the cover of Time, a Wheaties box or above the fold of the NYT. Stuff like Sosa and McGwire, Pete Rose's hitting streak, Henderson's (and even Coleman's) stolen base records, Hershisher's scoreless innings streak, Gibson's heroic homer, George Brett's run at .400..what Bonds did late in his career. Dimaggio's streak. Reggie Jackson and his candy bar...

Things that are easily understandable to the layman and transcend the sport in a way that actually makes what they're doing "news". It's tough to pin down but we seem to know it when we see it. To me, a "superstar", and it sounds stupid and goofy, is, at its core, someone who even my Mom and my Grandmother have heard of. A name that everyone knows even if they could care less and I think, in that way, you're being too generous and your scope is a little too wide.

It's tough to nail down, admittedly, but I think it's part of the definition. The FAME. Most everyone, even grandmas and bore housewives know who Michael Jordan, Lebron James, Nolan Ryan, Pete Rose, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Ty Cobb, Tom Brady, Babe Ruth, Wayne Gretsky, Willie Mays, Mike Tyson, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul Jabaar, Muhammad Ali and Mickey Mantle are - and even a few athletes who weren't even the very the best in their sport and were flash in the pans of sorts, but transcended it somehow and grew larger to became household names. Athletes like Lou Brock, Bart Starr, Johnny Unitas, Pistol Pete Maravich, Dennis Rodman, Brian Bozworth and William "The Fridge" Perry who crossed over into a different realm of super stardom.

Sorry for the rant but the subject got my brain moving.
7:19 PM May 22nd
 
bjames
FrankD
Great article. Just a small quibble: if you are going to back correct, i.e., Harper reaches superstar this year and for a while then you are going to back correct to designate him a superstar for years that he has played but are not now annointed as superstar years then I think you also have to remove (backdate) years where a person makes the superstar level for a year or two but then never makes that level again.


That never happens. It's not within the system for that to happen.
6:07 PM May 22nd
 
nettles9
Mark Fidrych wasn’t a “superstar”, he was a “sensation”.
2:10 PM May 22nd
 
FrankD
Great article. Just a small quibble: if you are going to back correct, i.e., Harper reaches superstar this year and for a while then you are going to back correct to designate him a superstar for years that he has played but are not now annointed as superstar years then I think you also have to remove (backdate) years where a person makes the superstar level for a year or two but then never makes that level again. Maybe for short term success a player should be designated a supernova, bright for just a moment, whereas a superstar burns bright for a longer period of time, and a star burns for a long time, not just reaching the superstar level of brightness ....
12:14 PM May 22nd
 
Jack
Splendid, deeply enjoyable article -- many thanks, Bill.

For what it's worth, I agree with the system designating Frank Howard and Tim Raines as superstars. My memory at the time of both of them was that they were game-dominating figures -- that is to say, if you were in attendance for their teams' games, you hardly took your eyes off of them. Howard from 1968 through 1970 thoroughly terrorized the AL East, and Raines likewise ran roughshod over the NL East in the early 1980s.
10:24 AM May 22nd
 
KaiserD2
Just a few comments.

First of all, I'm sorry Bill didn't at least mention Hall of Fame qualification as part of the article, because surely there should be some correlation between being a superstar for a period of years and getting into the Hall?

One can't prove these designations are "wrong," because Bill is purposely trying to combine objective and subjective measurements. But I want to point to some cases where I think the method resulted in some weird judgments of players.

First, I cannot understand at all the rationale for removing Lou Gehrig from the top category. The man had 12 outstanding seasons in a row (1926-37) and was in the middle of a 13th when he began to get sick. (He tailed off badly late in 1938.) I assume Albert Pujols isn't doing better because of his very mediocre years with the Angels, but he is clearly, to me, the second greatest offensive player of his generation (Gen X) behind Barry Bonds, so that seems a bit anomalous as well.

Second, for me, the system was absolutely right when it said Charlie Keller was a superstar, since her performed at a very high level for five years. Perhaps he too is hurt for hanging on in the majors after he was injured?

Thirdly, it is very interesting that Keith Hernandez does do quite well by this method and that raises the question, which I do hope Bill will give his opinion on, as to why on earth he got basically no HOF consideration from the BWAA?

Fourthly, although Joey Votto isn't widely regarded as a superstar, I agree with Bill that performance wise he certainly is.

That's enough!

David Kaiser
9:19 AM May 22nd
 
Fireball Wenz
Bill, count me among those who never described Fidrych as a "superstar" - I merely said he got a lot closer to it than a pitcher of far more significant accomplishments, Rick Reuschel. The Bird was on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. But I can't imagine anyone considering Luke Appling a superstar ever, either. To me, there has to be a cultural component to it. I don't see it being a meritocratic thing.
8:41 AM May 22nd
 
Manushfan
Sorta like saying, if I get the gist right-Elvis was a superstar from 1956, despite being in the military 58-60 and playing in the International League AKA Hollywood a good part of the 60's.

But Don McLean was just a one year wonder in 72 and therefore not one.

Yes that's sadly belabored.

I'm surprised too that Kaline isn't in there.
7:38 AM May 22nd
 
garywmaloney
I would just note that, by the measures of his time and in retrospect, Juan Marichal merits a Superstar designation. Even after the Roseboro incident, he earned the cover of TIME magazine for June 10, 1966 (depicting NINE of his motions), was the "yang" to Koufax's "yin" -- his period would certainly cover 1963-69 (if not 1963-71).

A Marichal inclusion would mean the SF Giants had three superstars (four if you count Perry), but only two postseasons to show for it . . . . and a slew of 2nd places in the old NL.
6:44 AM May 22nd
 
bjames
I also agree that Nolan Ryan should have been listed somewhere.

Regarding Mark Fidrych. . ..the goal of this system is to define as a "superstar" EXACTLY THE SAME PLAYERS WHO ARE DESCRIBED BY OTHERS AS SUPERSTARS.

While he was active, no one EVER described Mark Fidrych as a Superstar. I mean that quite literally. You could read every single word written about Mark Fidrych in his one great season, you could watch every game video about him, and you would not find one single instance of his being described as a superstar, while he was active. None. By anyone. He was not a superstar. It is factually wrong to argue that he was.

There was a tremendous amount of excitement about Fidrych, a tremendous amount of interest. But the term "superstar" is not a term that we apply to a young player before he has accomplishments. The term may imply excitement to some extent, but it also (and primarily) conveys the concept of respect for the player's accomplishment.

No rookie is ever described as a Superstar, except that you might say that Ohtani was a Japanese Superstar because of what he accomplished in Japan or that Daisuke Matsuzaka was a Japanese Superstar, or Ichiro. But no one described Vida Blue as a Superstar during the 1971 season; no one described Fred Lynn as a Superstar Rookie in 1975--or Joe DiMaggio in '36, or Fernando in 1981. At the end of the season, you might say that he BECAME a superstar during that season; you might say that after he has won the MVP Award. But during the season, I don't believe that the term would ever be used that way. It's just not the way the term is used.
11:39 PM May 21st
 
bjames
I agree that Randy Johnson should have had a longer period as a Superstar.
10:26 PM May 21st
 
jemanji
Wonderful article! Great fun. Enjoyed especially the overlapping timeline, which gives a sense of proportion at a visual glance.

Backed, naturally, by plenty of logic and data so that we can enjoy the conclusions with the confidence that they're 95% or 100% on target.

....

It seems unusual that at the moment we have only 3 certified superstars whereas in (say) the season 1999, we'd have had at least 8 such players recognized in their own time (even accounting for the partial bias). But that jibes with my own perception, FWIW.

....

Not to quibble, but I was a bit surprised that Randy Johnson shows up as a superstar for only 4 years. :- ) I remember in 1995, John Hart trying to get the rules of the game changed so that the 100-44 Indians could avoid facing Johnson in a 5-game series. I think the M's went 27-3 in his starts that year. Seemed like I remember him being viewed as an "automatic loss" on other teams' schedules for a very long time.

But, whatever. If the Unit was a superstar for only a few years, fine by me. Thanks for the info-raining article.



Also interesting that only about 1/3 of HOF players attained to the "superstar" level. And an important insight.
7:39 PM May 21st
 
Fireball Wenz
I guess I'm still stuck on the cultural aspect of superstardom. Don Mattingly was a superstar in a way Nellie Fox or Luke Appling never was. I think Fernando Valenzuela was a superstar for a short period; Vida Blue, too = in the way Denny McLain was. To me, Joe Torre and Willie Stargell were outstanding players who had some monster years; Reggie Jackson was a superstar. Mark Fidrych got a lot closer to being a superstar than Rick Reuschel ever was. I think how many magazine covers you appear on is a good indicator. To me, it's inseparable from hype.
7:05 PM May 21st
 
bjames
I would suggest adjusting the win shares by the numbered time the player is making the all-star appearance.


That's right. I have a list of six or seven fixes for the next iteration of this. That's one of them.
5:27 PM May 21st
 
Robinsong
Actually the 1928 Athletics also had Speaker, Cobb, and Collins. Grove was two years away, Collins was 4 years past, Foxx 1 year away, but 7 current or former or future superstars is pretty amazing! ​
3:34 PM May 21st
 
Brian
I think All Star Game appearances might be a helpful adjustment. It struck me on the list of players who didn't make the list - many, like Jeter (14), Ripken (19) and Seaver (12) had a large amount of all-star game appearances. I think this could be helpful in a couple of ways:

I would suggest adjusting the win shares by the numbered time the player is making the all-star appearance. Maybe 1 point for every 2nd or 3rd appearance. So by the time Seaver is in his 12th all star game, he is getting an additional 4-6 win shares. The reason for this is that while one all-star appearance does not equate to superstar, I would argue that the title "perennial all-star" is much more relevant.

And/or when you decide someone is no longer a superstar - I think it is very relevant to know if he is still being selected to all-star teams. If not, that may be a good time to say that ship has sailed.
3:25 PM May 21st
 
mrbryan
No love for Al Kaline on the list?

It looks to me like Connie Mack's second great team had the most superstars at one time: Simmons, Foxx, Cochrane, and Grove.
2:22 PM May 21st
 
Robinsong
I like the list and the adjustments. There are a couple of tweaks that I would suggest: 1) Lower the cutoff for a superstar pitcher (or catcher?) dropping off the list. Clemens, Seaver, Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez were superstars for longer than the systems shows. 2) Increase even further the correction for secondary bases, at least prior to the 1982 Baseball Abstract. As a very casual fan in the 70s, I did not think of Schmidt as a superstar until 1980, partly because I undervalued defense and secondary bases. 3) I generally think that players are identified as superstars a year or two early. It is the reverse of the last bias that Bill talks about. We see that a player became a superstar and look back to when they were first extraordinary. 4) There is at least one case where a player was a superstar before the system identifies him as such: Jackie Robinson. He was the baseball story of 1947 of course. It is one case where hype alone justifies the title. Fernando Valenzuela, Vida Blue, Nolan Ryan, and Mark Fidrych were superstars, if briefly. Actually I think Nolan Ryan is a flat out miss. He was a superstar from 1973 to close to the end of his career.
12:17 PM May 21st
 
BobGill
I wouldn't have guessed that any study about such a vague term as superstar could come to any sort of meaningful conclusions, but I'd have to say this one did it. It's an interesting look at many of the game's greatest players, and I particularly appreciated the paragraph about why you can't rely too much on hype in evaluating athletes. One example popped into my head: If you gave more weight to press clipping and name recognition, Bo Belinsky might show up as a superstar for a few years in the 1960s.

12:07 PM May 21st
 
rtallia
So, Dick Allen has 10 or 11 years of superstar status, then...does that make him the longest-tenured superstar not in the HOF besides the gambling/steroids/current guys? Methinks so...
11:52 AM May 21st
 
bjames
The question about Gwynn is an interesting one. First of all, you will note that there are very, very few players post-1960 who made the Superstar List without an MVP season. Gwynn did not have an MVP season, thus would be an outlier if he had made the list.

The interesting point, though, is Gwynn and Tim Raines. Both players are listed as being the same age--22 years old in 1982, etc.--both playing in the same leagues in the same years. Gwynn made 6,662 outs in his career; Raines made 6,670--essentially identical. Gwynn had 1,635 Runs Created in his career; Raines had 1,645--again, essentially identical. Win Shares credits Gwynn with 398 Career Win Shares, Raines 390--both numbers well above the usual Hall of Fame standards. Oddly enough, both Tim Raines Jr. and Tony Gwynn Jr. had modest major league careers.

My system lists Raines as a Superstar, which I acknowledged in the article may have been an error, whereas it does not list Gwynn, although Gwynn had a much easier path to the Hall of Fame, for example, and might have been a more natural candidate.

But the system looks not only for greatness but for a concentrated period of greatness; that is, it looks for a player who has a series of high-impact seasons in a row. That is much more Raines than Gwynn. Raines beginning in 1983 has 29, 32, 36, 32, 34 Win Shares; anything above 30 is an MVP candidate, generally. Gwynn has no concentrated period of success like that; he had 35 Win Shares in 1984, 30 in 1989 and 39 in 1998, but never had consecutive seasons with 30. Thus, Raines fits the mold that the system is looking for much more than Gwynn does. This is one of those rules that is GENERALLY correct but not ALWAYS correct. What we have to do to make a system like this work is combine those rules that generally work but don't always work in such a manner that they always work.

We could lift Gwynn to Superstar status, probably, by increasing the "batting average bias" in the system. The issue is whether that would backfire on us somehow, making Bill Madlock show up as a Superstar, or Ralph Garr or Edgar Martinez. I don't know; I put as much time into this as I could, and eventually I had to publish it. But I do think probably that it could be made to work by increasing the batting average bias somehow. . .perhaps giving 3 points in Adjusted Win Shares to the batting champion. That might improve the system; for example, it would probably help Roberto Clemente show up as a superstar earlier, and Rod Carew, and these would probably be helpful adjustments. Thanks.


11:29 AM May 21st
 
markj111
I’m surprised that Gwynn did not make the cut.
10:30 AM May 21st
 
Marc Schneider
"We see our President’s untruthful statements day to day; we have forgotten 99% of LBJ’s, but frankly, the man couldn’t tell the truth to save his soul. His failings no longer matter, so they are no longer remembered."

That's a good point, although, in LBJ's case, a lot of it is that many people are simply too young to know about this and Vietnam is the remote past. But, along those lines, I read a post on Facebook several months ago (a partisan Democratic post) that ostensibly was attacking Trump's attack on civil liberties. It gave a quote from LBJ about how important civil liberties were. I almost laughed out loud; whatever he may have said, LBJ was hardly a protector of civil liberties. (And this from someone who applauds much of what he did domestically.) I could only assume that the poster was looking for a quote from a Democrat to support his position and was too young to actually remember LBJ, who thought the Commies were behind that anti-war movement.
10:20 AM May 21st
 
ksclacktc
Manush- I agree with you 100%! Not a fan of these superstar articles. I'm not so sure that the answer is a purely mathematical exercise.
8:58 AM May 21st
 
Manushfan
Interesting, Seeing Dave Parker's name in there naturally I was looking for George Foster and Jim Rice's too...
6:23 AM May 21st
 
SteveN
A quick check shows that, according to the system, Musial and Aaron were superstars for 20 years each. The longest runs shown. Sounds right.
6:10 AM May 21st
 
 
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